New CDC Study Finds Few Risks of Birth Defects From SSRI Use
A new Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that the use of certain antidepressants — selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — during pregnancy does not significantly increase the risk for most birth defects.
The study, “Use of Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors in Pregnancy and the Risk of Birth Defects,” examined four SSRIs used to treat depression — fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine and citalopram — and 18 birth defect categories, including defects of the brain, spine, heart and mouth. The women in the study took these SSRIs the month before they became pregnant or in the first three months of pregnancy.
The CDC study found no significant increase in risk for the majority of birth defects assessed when all SSRIs were studied together. This finding includes the risk for congenital heart defects, which were associated with SSRI use in previous studies.
Researchers, did, however, find associations between SSRI use and three specific birth defects: a defect of the brain, one type of abnormal skull development and a gastrointestinal abnormality. The CDC said it plans to continue studying the associations to clarify whether true risks exists.